Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Contagious" is a Good Word

I have been inspired by Kiran Bir Sethi this morning - a teacher in India who is "teaching kids life's most valuable lesson: "I can." Kiran firmly believes that children need to spread the "I Can Infection" through change and that "Contagious" is a good word. It is well worth watching her Ted Talk embedded below. Kiran simply believes in children and has set them the task of believing in themselves and setting about changing the world - starting in India:-) The projects that the children from Riverside School in Ahmedabad and other schools throughout India have achieved are incredible! On group of children decided "our parents are illiterate and we want to teach them how to read and write" - powerful changes were made by the children performing street plays to create awareness of the importance of being literate. Watching the children in action and hearing the parents reactions is truly heartwarming. As Tony Ryan wrote on his blog "If you’re into student-centred learning, you’re going to love this."

PS Watch out for the world's first child-friendly zebra crossing:-)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Are you Listening?"

Thanks to my colleague Tara Fagan, I have discovered this book written by Lisa Burman.

It has really made me stop and reflect on my practice as a teacher, a person and a mother! Am I truly listening when children talk to me? Sadly, the more I read the more I realise I need to really work on my listening skills! Isn't it funny that as a teacher we are often focusing on developing listening skills in children and I wonder if we are role modeling good listening skills ourselves. How many times when children are trying to engage us in conversations are we actually doing other things, thinking about other things or saying "hang on a minute..." In my role as an Early Years Facilitator for Core Education I have had the opportunity to delve deeper into this question with many teaching teams. As incredibly reflective practitioners we have all walked away with new ideas and strategies for truly listening to children.

When children are telling us their stories it is giving us an amazing opportunity to learn about their interests. It is also giving us an insight into the knowledge and experiences they have. By gaining this knowledge we are able to offer experiences to further inspire, motivate and challenge their thinking and learning. I have found these 5 tips (from Lisa Burman's book) to be very useful for teachers to reflect on their practice.

  • Pause and reflect on the ways you listen closely to children.
  • Pause and become more conscious of the questions you ask.
  • Pause and become aware of the time you give children to think before you continue the conversation.
  • Pause and become aware of how you might unintentionally lead children to your ideas instead of exploring their own schema.
  • Pause and become a more skilled teacher by reflecting on your role as a listener to young learners.

In my daily work with children and teachers (including my own children!) I will be focusing on truly listening and sharing the ideas and strategies that Lisa Burman gives us for fostering conversations that help young children learn.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How Young People Perceive Social Media

Thanks to EDtalks for this video clip of Eva-Maria Salikhova. Eva-Maria is a twenty year old international speaker and certified coach who is living her dream: to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between teenagers and adults around the globe. She is the author of the world's first parenting book written by a teenager; provocatively titled "You Shut Up!". At ELF 2010 Eva-Maria talked about the way young people use social media.

I especially liked her summing up statement "Change is a normal part of society, it's just like brushing your teeth." If only everyone thought like this....

Thanks to Eva-Maria for sharing her perspective.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Twittering, Tweets and Twitterrific!

Finally got organised with twitterrific today - hoping it is going to help be become a better tweeter! I have seen the benefits of following like minded people on twitter and know there is a real value in sharing links, ideas and resources via twitter. Wish me luck!

This is a great blog post by Sarah Stewart who is the Facilitator for Facilitation Online 2010 for those of you still wondering about twitter and learning....
Teaching, Learning and Twitter.

About to attend first online twitter event for #FO2010 - Questions below awaiting answer:-)

  • What worked well?
  • What did not go so well?
  • What skills or resources do you need to network and facilitate meetings using Twitter?
  • How do you see yourself using Twitter in the future, if at all, for online facilitation?

  • What do you need to do develop an effective online network that you can use for your online facilitation?
To begin with, setting up own network, thinking about the "focus" for this - eg for us, education and technology. Working with others existing networks and starting to "follow" some of their people. When networking the need to have something interesting to say/resources to share/ideas and links. In the online relationship we feel we need to be giving "something back" as well as receiving.. contribute and receive. For the online relationship to function well there needs to be effective sharing between "tweeters".

Thinking about our "online facilitation" in our context - we probably wouldn't use twitter but if we were looking for resources for online facilitation we could use twitter as a tool to search for resources/ideas. Feel we would "scare" our new people if we started expected them to use twitter. But would always encourage to explore as so all web 2.0 tools for professional networking.

  • What tips can you share about online networking that will help us improve our online facilitation skills?
Keeping it current and making regular postings.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Reflecting on Social Networking

Excellent professional reading and learning from the blog links this week. Today Justine and I collaborated and discussed social networking. Me - someone who has been an avid dabbler of facebook for sometime and also worked a bit with interact, twitter etc - Justine, who is still exploring the opportunities/possibilities of social networking, both personally and professionally. Made for great conversation and lots of bouncing ideas off each other:-)

Great reflective discussion as we read the blog posts together and discussed our thoughts. The differences in our "skills and knowledge" meant that I was keen to explore other links but weary of time whilst Justine was still unsure of opening links and where it would lead her. I talked to Justine about hesitation (due to time) as I often find myself going off tangent as I move from blog to blog and discover other information/readings/ideas/wonderings of interest! For me, alot of it is about time management and the worry of "accidentally" heading off in a different direction! Justine came up with a great quote as we discusssed the time issue... "Knowledge and experience contribute to time"!

I especially enjoyed reading Beth Kanter blog post discussing the term "network weaver"and would like to go back and explore the many links in this blog post further.

"Network weavers are people who intentionally and informally - and often serendipitously - weave new and richer connections between and among people, groups, and entities in networks. They also weave new and richer connections between among networks."
"Network weaving" is becoming a real part of our jobs as Early Years Facilitators. By providing online networking sites we are giving educators the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals both nationally and globally. Personally I have had great satisfaction from professional relationships I have built up with other educators through social networking. The fact that I work "virtually" is another factor in me building up relationships with my work colleagues through social networking, especially facebook. Facebook gives us the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level too as we miss out on those in office conversations over morning tea etc.

A few reflections from our discussion this morning on the questions for this week... These are very brief notes which were extended on in our conversation. Anyone who knows Justine and I will realise there was a lot of conversation and I was unable to keep up with the note taking!

How can social networking platforms be used for online facilitation?
  • Building up professional learning networks.
  • Potential to utilising social networking sites to draw people in. An example being "younger teachers" who are avid users of facebook - bringing in the professional element alongside the personal.
  • Utilising social networking sites to strengthen people's engagement and participation in online communities.
  • Facilitators role to inspire participants to contribute to the online community via social networking sites.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of social networking?
  • Disadvantages....
  • Participants - skills and knowledge - where they are at
  • Without guided facilitation it can go off on "wrong" tangents - need to retain professionalism
  • Advantages
  • Ability to have a group social networking site alongside personal social networking - professional vs personal
  • Real time learning
  • Comfort of your own home
  • Resources/readings on tap in your own time
  • Building up a wider learning community - can be global - not just within your city
  • International perspectives can be woven into our learning
How would you use the social networking platform you have joined for online facilitation in the future?
  • Used facebook to promote professional learning opportunties eg EducampTaiTokerau/Ulearn
  • CORE Education utilsing facebook to advertise professional learning opportunities and "news and updates"
As I continue reading I find many different blog posts/peoples views that ring true with me. I particularly like this quote which I found on Sheryl's Blog.
"Gathering data is the first step to knowledge and wisdom but sharing data is the first step to community." Henry Gates

As I struggle time wise to get myself more involved with the wider community on the Wiki Educator online workshop, I am managing, although brief, time to catch up with Justine and Tara who are undertaking this journey alongside me... we are gathering and sharing data so are taking our first baby steps towards the community:-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reflections Week 5

Tara and I have worked collaboratively to reflect and write brief notes on the following questions...
  • What is online facilitation?
Providing and facilitating a learning community using Web 2.0 tools.

  • What skills do you need as an online facilitator?
Knowledge of the Web 2.0 tools
Skills in engaging participants
People skills and strategies for encouraging all participants to become involved
Content knowledge and the skills to deliver it effectively
Supporting all ideas
Having the ability to "gently guide"
  • How does a facilitator build an online community or network?
Deciding on purpose! What tools will suit your purpose best? Inviting people to join. Encouraging discussions using a variety of web 2.0 tools...
Wanting to share your knowledge, skills.....
Enthusiasm for your topic
  • What are the key things to remember when facilitating an event, meeting or education course, especially when working with people who are new to online technology?
Providing "how to" guides/notes beforehand - using pictures/words etc
Having practice runs with participants who aren't so confident
Knowing and sharing the fact that technology does go wrong!
Allow time for everyone's voice
Allow time at the beginning to sort out "techy issues"
Time at the beginning for participants to introduce themselves, give them previous "warning" about this so they can be prepared.
  • What is the difference between teaching and facilitation?
Facilitation you are guiding people to work through it themselves - providing challenges and motivating, encouraging goal setting.... teaching to us, means teaching a direct skill. eg learning to knit! Tara is teaching Mackenzie how to knit, Tara couldn't facilitate this without sitting with her and guiding her..
  • What is netiquette?
Good etiquette online. Being a safe and responsible cybercitizen. Showing respect and understanding. To me it is all about being "a good person" - you shouldn't behave any differently than you do in the "real world!" Not being face to face shouldn't make any difference. Always remembering that what you post can exist forever!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why an Online Facilitation Course?

Why an online facilitation adventure....  Firstly, I am looking forward to gaining skills and knowledge in setting up and sustaining an online learning community.  Secondly, I am looking forward to exploring  Web 2.0 conferencing tools for engaging online participants and keeping up to date with current issues and trends pertaining to online facilitation.  Also, I am looking forward to collaborating and networking with others who are undertaking this online facilitation course and learning from, with and alongside them.  Let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to the Blogosphere

It's time to start blogging again..... It has been over a year now since I finished my teaching position at Manaia Kindergarten where blogging was an amazing tool at building relationships with our whanau, local schools and wider community. In my current role as an Early Years Facilitator for CORE Education it is exciting to be part of a team encouraging the use of Web 2.0 tools in education. Online Facilitation is becoming a more known tool for delivering quality professional learning and I look forward to learning more:-) I look forward to utilising this blog to share my thoughts, ideas, wonderings, challenges and successes as we continue our path into the 21st century. Joining this online facilitation workshop will provide me with continued professional and personal learning in my role as an Early Years Facilitator.